TV

Deus Ex Machina

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE "BATTLESTAR GALACTICA" FINALE, SKIP TO THE END.

STILL HERE? OK....

The title of this blog, deus ex machina, is Greek for "the hand of the gods." It was a device the ancient playwrights would use, having the gods appear in the play's final moments and have a direct influence on the outcome of the plot. In modern terms, it's sort of come to mean an ending that comes out of nowhere.

Was that "BSG's" ending? Sort of. The spirituality expressed throughout the show has been consistent if a bit of a mystery to the viewers, but we've never seen God directly influence events until the end, with the apparent resurrection of a dead Starbuck to lead humanity to the new Earth. (Nice call by my friend Kerry, BTW, who talked about the second Earth for a couple of months now).

For some viewers, the Starbuck explanation will be pretty unsatisfying, because they were seeking firm, scientific answers for everything that was going on. But that isn't "BSG's" nature.

More satisfying, yet still spiritually consistent, was the explanation of Head Six and Head Baltar as angels. Head Baltar's final line about God -- "You know that He hates to be called that" -- was both cryptic and clever, a final mystery for the fans but consistent with God's true nature. Are we ever supposed to fully understand what God is?

As for the non-spiritual elements of the finale, I enjoyed seeing the character arcs of how the various people we've followed over the years got to where they ended up. Was it fate that led them on those paths, or was it free will? Probably a bit of both.

I loved the battle sequences, some of the finest ever produced on TV, including the old-school Cylons battling the later versions.

I enjoyed the moments in which the non-main characters got their due: Racetrack, Hot Dog, Admiral Hoshi and of course, President Lampkin.

Probably my favorite arc was Baltar's. James Callis created one of the most interesting TV villains out there, a cowardly, womanizing opportunist, so it was great to see Baltar finally and fully redeem himself at the end, be it his humorous attempt at suiting up for battle (and killing a dead Cylon over and over) to his impassioned plea to Cavill that led to the truce. His final line with Caprica as they began their lives together on Earth -- "You know, I know a little something about farming" -- was one of the best of the series.

It was a bittersweet ending for the rest of the cast, with both Adama and Lee ending up alone and Sharon and Helo finally settling down. (Perhaps they will take the time to put a leash on Hera. It's hard to believe all of humanity is descended from a child with no survival instincts.)

There were some nice touches, with Sam flying the fleet into the Sun to the tune of the original "BSG" theme and the Cylons being given their freedom.

Finally, the final sequence in Times Square and our own need for technology. Is "BSG" giving us a glimpse into our own future? Or are we as a species smart enough to break the cycle? Somethng to think about.

Anyway, it's not the END end of all things "BSG." "Caprica," the series' prequel/spinoff, will be out next month on DVD and the TV-movie, "The Plan" will likely air in late 2009.

There are a couple of good post-finale interviews with the cast and crew at these places, worth checking out:

http://www.tvguide.com/News/Battlestar-Galacticas-Ron-1004256.aspx

http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2009/03/battlestar-galactica-daybreak-finale-moore-mcdonnell-olmos.html

What were your thoughts on the finale?

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: A few reruns mixed in with the new stuff tonight.

Bryan Fuller delivers his first script as "Heroes" (NBC, 9 p.m.) showrunner, and some early reviews say it's on par with his first season masterpiece, "Company Man." It follows a new "Chuck" at 8 p.m. and precedes a new "Medium."

"24" (Fox, 9 p.m.) follows a rerun of "House" as Jack and Tony must stop a shipment with the FBI on their tails.

The CW has new episodes of "Gossip Girl" and "One Tree Hill," while ABC has two hours worth of "Dancing With The Stars," followed by a new "Castle" (ABC, 10 p.m.)

"How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 8 p.m.) moves up a half-hour for tonight only with a new episode, and is followed by a rerun. "Rules of Engagement" (CBS, 9:30 p.m.) is new, as is "CSI: Miami" at 10 p.m.

On cable, "Saving Grace" (TNT, 10 p.m.) is new.

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